Category Archives: Psychology

‘The Psychology of Spirituality: An Introduction’ by Larry Culliford

From my experience of a career in the so-called ‘helping professions,’ I think I can safely claim that in these industries geared to health, healing and helping, scant attention is ever paid to people’s spirituality. We train our medical, paramedical and mental health workers in the mechanical workings of the body and the mind, but speak rarely of the heart and never of the soul. Continue reading

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‘From Science to God: A Physicist’s Journey into the Mystery of Consciousness’ by Peter Russell

The book is written as a journey of discovery and Russell writes in the context of his own search to find a theory of consciousness. Apparently this is one of the major unsolved conundrums of psychology and even of quantum physics. It is possible to explain most human activities in terms of conventional science but how and why we should be conscious has still no satisfactory explanation. Continue reading

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‘Rivers of Green Wisdom: Exploring Christian and Yogic Earth Centred Spirituality’ by Santoshan (Stephen Wollaston)

Possibly the first book ever to take Yoga in one hand and Christianity on the other and examine them both through the lens of an Earth-centred Spirituality. Is there, in fact, ‘green wisdom’ to be found within these two great traditions? If there is, then surely these need to be emphasised in this era of climate change and ever-worsening ecological crisis. Continue reading

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‘Blue Mind’ by Wallace J. Nichols

Ranging as it does from in-depth explanations of neuropsychological processes to personal stories from surfers, divers, fishermen, sailors and others, this book is so impressively comprehensive that it could easily have been subtitled ‘Everything you always wanted to know about our human relationship to water and lots more that you never even imagined.’ Continue reading

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‘The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles’ by Bruce Lipton

We’ve all been taught – whether by high school biology teachers, college lecturers or the journalists and TV documentary-makers of popular culture – that it is the DNA in our cells which determines who we are. Nurture is important but it is our genes that confer upon us our individual identity. Continue reading

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‘Out of the Labyrinth: Who We Are, How We Go Wrong and What We Can Do about It’ by Carl Frankel

This book addresses the elements in human nature that either propel one in the direction of living in harmony with the earth or, as is the usual case, carry on as though a connection didn’t exist. Continue reading

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‘Feral: Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding’ by George Monbiot

Rather than seeing the bare hills of mid-Wales as beautiful in their remoteness George Monbiot sees them as ruined, ‘sheepwrecked’ landscapes and re-imagines them as they once were—and could be again—thickly forested and rich with wildlife. His biggest dream is the restoration to completeness of fractured ecosystems by the eventual re-introduction of the wolf, the lynx and other large mammals to our British landscapes in the same way as this is already being done in other parts of Europe and in certain areas of North America. Continue reading

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‘The Optimistic Environmentalist: Progressing Toward a Greener Future’

As an environmental lawyer, Canadian writer David Boyd knows full well that much of the environmental news these days is bad news. However he also knows that although news tends to make more compelling headlines than good news, there is good news to be found. Although we have a very, very long way to go, it is a fact that: From air pollution to safe drinking water, from greener cities to renewable energy, we’ve made remarkable but widely underacknowledged progress. And his aim was to document as many examples of this kind of good news as he could fit between two covers. Continue reading

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‘Madness, Mystery and the Survival of God’ by Isabel Clarke

Healing, at least in part, can come through making sense of suffering and learning from it. So, for those who have suffered from mental ill-health or those who meet people who do, this book is particularly helpful. Continue reading

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‘Sweat Your Prayers: Movement As Spiritual Practice’ by Gabrielle Roth

Gabrielle Roth’s dance system or ‘the five rhythms’ isn’t about definite steps, but about responding directly to music and moving however you feel. The five rhythms are supposed to be the five basic types of process which underlie all music, even though they are often found mixed together. Continue reading

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‘All Our Relations: Green Spirit Connections with the more-than-human world’ Edited by Marian Van Eyk McCain

A book that specifically honours all those other life forms with whom we share the planet. They are all our relations. How we treat them, how we perceive them and feel about them and interact with them – and the extent to which we respect them is a measure of our true humanity and a measure of our true worth. Continue reading

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‘Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition’ by Alastair McIntosh

This would be a good book for study in schools because it offers scientific and technical information about ecology, sociology and psychology at a level that is very accessible. The author, a Scottish environmentalist, relates this to the inner life and thence the outward actions of all of us. Essentially, it’s a book about climate change and the human mind-set that has brought it about but continues to deny any responsibility. It also gives us constructive suggestions for a way forward. Continue reading

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‘Understanding Gregory Bateson: mind, beauty and the sacred earth’ by Noel Charlton

“Our most dangerous characteristic is our propensity to develop and rely on our conscious purposes…until we see the world as a network of relating, as a vast interrelated process of which we are dependent members, we will not be fit to survive in it.” (p.29). Continue reading

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‘The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World’ by Iain McGilchrist

This is one of the most important books that I’ve read. I heard Iain McGilchrist talking about it on the radio when it was first published and just knew I had to read it. It’s a weighty tome (both in size and content), covering both the structure of the brain and how the brain’s structure and function has shaped Western culture. McGilchrist is eminently suited for the task, as he taught English at Oxford University before training as a psychiatrist and is therefore able to express complex ideas in simple, attractive ways. Continue reading

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‘The Secret Language of Animals: A Guide to Remarkable Behavior’ by Janine M Benyus

Natural science writer Janine Benyus takes us methodically through the full repertoire of sounds and signals and behaviours of twenty creatures from five different parts of the world in order to help us better understand the ways in which they communicate. Through the pages of this book we come to know not just how to interpret what we see our fellow animals doing when we go to the zoo but who they would be—and how they would be—if we were to able to meet and observe them on their own home ground. Continue reading

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‘The human in the Universe’ (Kindle edition) by Niamh Brennan

This ebook is about the Universe Story (the story as revealed by science from the Big Bang to the present day) and how it can inspire us in our lives and help to create a better world. Continue reading

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‘Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organisations & Society’ by Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski & Betty Sue Flowers

I’ve always wondered what manner of ‘profound change’ it would take to alter how individuals think and act. Individuals make up society; if enough of them did change, that would mean society itself would undergo some kind of transformation. Thus it was with great curiosity and anticipation that I waded in and began absorbing the discerning logic and experiential wisdom the four experts had woven in and out of all kinds of background qualifications and assembled into one gigantic platter of prescriptions for how to make sense of who we are, how society functions, the consequences of our interactions and the kinds of scenarios that result because of the choices we make, both personal and public, at all levels of human conduct. Continue reading

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‘Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World’ by Bill Plotkin

Depth psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin, well known for his earlier book, Soulcraft, begins this one with a quote from Thomas Berry, a poignant poem from Drew Dellinger, five succinct sentences outlining the mess our species has made of the planet in the last two hundred years and the following statement: “True adulthood, or psychological maturity, has become an uncommon achievement in Western and Westernized societies and genuine elderhood nearly nonexistent.” Continue reading

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‘The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth’ by Bruce Lipton

This book about the dynamics of intimate relationships and their potential as a vehicle for personal growth has two things that make it different from other books on relationships: (a) it is written by a biologist and underpinned by science, and (b) it addresses the connection between personal love and planetary healing. Continue reading

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‘Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness’ by Mary Reynolds Thompson

The thoughts and emotions that are stirred awake in us when we walk in a desert landscape have a different quality from those engendered by a walk in the depths of a forest. Different again are the ideas and images that come to mind when we marvel at a mountain peak or stand in a high place and look across a valley. And when we gaze out at the ocean or sit on the bank of a fast-flowing river or find ourselves in the middle of a grassy field, the inner scene changes again. In this unusual book, Mary Reynolds Thompson studies these deep connections between the Earth’s primary landscapes and what she calls the ‘soulscapes’ of our inner lives and how this connection can be used for emotional healing and spiritual transformation. Continue reading

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‘The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine’ by Matthew Fox

Finally, I suggest that this book is for women just as much as for men. Partly because, as Matthew rightly says, we all have our inner masculine and inner feminine to honour. And also because the more understanding and dialogue there is between the sexes, the more chance there is for a sacred union between these two polarities. Although as he says, the dance between the two polarities never ends; they need to be in creative tension. Continue reading

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‘Becoming Animal: An Earthy Cosmology’ by David Abram

An essential first step in repairing the damage we have done to the planet and to ourselves may be to go back to basics and, literally, to come to our senses.
Not only must we fully re-inhabit our animal bodies but we must also become aware of our vital interconnectedness with all other creatures. And for tutoring us and inspiring us in these twin tasks I have never met a better teacher than David Abram. Continue reading

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‘Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals (Sacred Activism)’ by Linda Bender

This author, a scientifically trained veterinarian, who has worked with animal all her life, talks to us about the way animals think and feel and dwell–unlike us–in the ever-present moment. They have a lot to teach us. She encourages her readers “…to think of intuitive, telepathic communication with animals as a natural ability that you once had and have temporarily misplaced rather than as a supernatural power that you are trying to acquire.” It is, she says, a skill that is achievable by all of us. A lovely, thought-provoking and insightful book. Continue reading

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‘Re-enchanting the Forest: Meaningful Ritual in a Secular World’ by William Ayot

William defines ritual as activities that bring about a change: “symbolic actions through which we can give our soul or psyche an important message”. He says that from ritual we can receive clear and potent messages; have a sense of belonging, but most importantly receive the gift of connection with Nature, with the other-than-human. Ritual can put us in direct connection with the mysterious, the numinous, the Other. Continue reading

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‘Towards Wisdom’ by Sheila Ward

Sheila’s book, Towards Wisdom, is in part autobiographical, exploring the author’s own journey of personal and spiritual growth through the membership of various groups and circles in which she has taken part over the years. It details the techniques and practices used in each of these and how they might be used by other groups or individuals, particularly groups of women entering — or already in — the second half of their lives. Continue reading

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‘The Spell of the Sensuous’ by David Abram

Part personal story, this book begins among the bright green terraced rice paddies of Bali as the author sets out on a study tour through Asia to document the relationship between magic and medicine. Rather than travelling as an academic, he goes simply as a magician, using his own well-developed magic skills to make a collegial connection with the various sorcerers and shamans he meets along the way. Soon, however, he begins to discover the deeper truths of the shamanic role in community, which is to be the knowing, sensing bridge between the community and the greater reality, both psychic and organic, in which all our human communities are embedded. Continue reading

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‘Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times’ by Carolyn Baker

In a collapsing world, it is no good surviving physically unless we can also survive—and help each other survive—emotionally and spiritually, and the aim of this book is to help us do just that. The first two-thirds of the book describe and explain, in 109 easy-to-read, wisdom-packed pages, the psycho-spiritual preparations that need to be made for the collapse that has already begun, and why, even though the collapse may be a long, slow process, it is so vital that we start making them. The last third consists of a carefully-chosen set of 52 weekly ‘meditations’ – in the sense of quotes and thoughts to be pondered upon – all geared towards helping us deal with the collapse of our old world whilst also saving and guarding the seeds we hope to plant in the new one that will—we hope—eventually rise from the ruins.
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‘Other Than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind’ by Kamalamani

The decision to have – or not to have—children, says this author, is “a private decision with global consequences.” Her book is intended to help those who are involved in making the decision whether or not to remain childless and includes all genders, creeds, cultures and the different reasons for considering this. Her greatest inspiration came from Stephanie Mills’ graduation speech, during the time when the population explosion began to cause concern. Stephanie said, “I am terribly saddened by the fact that the most humane thing for me to do is have no children at all.” Continue reading

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‘The Living Universe: Where Are We? Who Are We? Where Are We Going?’ by Duane Elgin

How many of us, staring up into the unfathomable reaches of the Milky Way on a clear, moonless night, have felt a shiver run through us? Who could not feel a shiver of awe – perhaps even of terror – in contemplating his or her puny insignificance against a background of stars? Compared to the immensity of even this visible fragment of the mysterious universe, we are mere specks of dust. And yet… perhaps we are less puny and less separate than we think. Continue reading

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‘The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder’ by Richard Louv

Whereas Louv’s earlier book Last Child in the Woods pointed out the problem of Nature- Deficiency Disorder in children, Louv’s new book The Nature Principle points out that adults themselves can suffer from the same disorder—and many already are. Though we tend to forget it, we too are animals; we co-evolved with the natural world and we need it as much as ever. Being isolated from green and growing things predisposes us to a range of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, behaviour disorders, depression and a lack of connection with community and place. We ignore these warnings at our peril. Continue reading

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‘Don’t Even Think About It: Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change’ by George Marshall

As the title suggests, this is not a book about climate science. It’s about humans and the weird but inescapable fact that we, as the species whose actions have contributed so heavily to climate change, seem utterly incapable not only of addressing the issue but even of admitting that it exists. Why? Why don’t we all join the dots and amend our lifestyles to lower carbon emissions? Marshall is convinced that the real answers to do not lie in the things that drive us apart so much as the things we all share: our common psychology, our perception of risk, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe. This book, the result of years of research, provides a full and fascinating explanation of this phenomenon and what we might do about it. Continue reading

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‘Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals’ by Nathan H. Lents

As twigs from the same branch of the same family tree, we have the same instincts, the same repertoire of feelings, the same traits, and many of the same behavioural tendencies as many other species. Such qualities as fidelity, loyalty, morality and altruism are alive and well amongst our quadripedal relatives and the lines dividing us from them are in fact very thin ones. This compact and comprehensive book describes many feelings and behaviours our non-human relatives share with us such as those relating to justice, sex, love, fear, grief, envy and jealousy. This is a readable, interesting and straightforward book backed up with an extensive collection of scientific references. Continue reading

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‘Hope for Humanity: how understanding and healing trauma could solve the planetary crisis’ by Malcolm Hollick and Christine Connelly

As can be verified from Google, it has often been said that “what we do to the planet we do to ourselves.” An even more chilling thought, however, is that what we humans do to ourselves we may also do to the planet. A significant proportion of us have, today and throughout our history, routinely inflicted the most horrifying suffering on each other, on scales from the individual to genocide, despite widely spread contrary teachings from the major religions and despite – or maybe because of – the power and sophistication of our mind. So what is it about Homo sapiens that makes us the scourge both of other species and of our own? Continue reading

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‘Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy’ by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

It is so easy to become fearful, isolated and despondent about the enormity of the environmental and social challenges that we, as a human race, are currently facing. This book tells us how we can sustain ourselves through these challenges and live positive, compassionate and hope filled lives Continue reading

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‘The Wisdom of Birch, Oak and Yew’ by Penny Billington

This is not simply a book about trees. It is a book about you and me and all of us and how we can draw on a reservoir of help and energy that we might not even realize is available to us—i.e. the help and energy of those silent, deeply-rooted companions whose presence we all tend to overlook.

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‘Nature Spirituality from the Ground Up: Connect with Totems in Your Ecosystem’ by Lupa

This author is an ecopsychologist with a counselling practice, and her specialty, which she describes as ‘bioregional totemism’ takes a much wider and more holistic approach than many of her colleagues. She calls it a self-created, spirit-centred neoshamanic path. It begins with a reminder that everything we touch came in some way from a natural source and that: …even living in the middle of the city, I spend every moment immersed in nature. ” Continue reading

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‘Find Your Power: A Toolkit for Resilience and Positive Change ‘ by Chris Johnstone

“Ever felt stuck?” asks the publisher of this highly accessible book. “Here is an approach”, they claim, “..that helps us overcome obstacles, improve our relationships, supports our values, and moves us towards our goals.” For once, I’m pleased to say, the publisher’s blurb has not overstated its case. Continue reading

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‘The Science Delusion: Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry’ by Rupert Sheldrake

The aim of this book is to encourage a fundamental and beneficial re-evaluation of the way the sciences are defined and practised in our modern world. It does so by carefully and systematically examining ten core beliefs that most scientists accept without question, all of which are in fact untested and untestable and which severely limit the ability of our modern sciences to respond convincingly to the challenges we face in the twenty-first century. Continue reading

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‘Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World ‘ by Eric Dietrich

Have we not always been led to believe that religion is the purveyor of mysteries and all that is supernatural rather than natural? And have we not learned that science destroys mystery by discovering truth? In fact, as Dietrich—professor of philosophy at Binghamton University—so thoroughly and competently explains, religion is actually a biological phenomenon, a property emerging from the process of human evolution. Meanwhile science, we have all discovered, is what destroys our mysteries and reveals to us all that is real about the world. Continue reading

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‘Deep Green Living (GreenSpirit ebooks Book 6)’ Edited by Marian Van Eyk McCain

This ebook on Deep Green Living is a collection of articles written by fourteen different authors and is in four parts. The first is about feeling our sense of place on the Earth, the second looks at our lifestyles, the third is about wildness and the final part discusses our relationship with the natural world. The intention of the ebook is to help us to find our place in the world and to inspire us to live in good relationship with the Earth and all beings. Continue reading

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‘Gaia Eros:Reconnecting to the Magic and Spirit of Nature’ by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Jesse Wolf Hardin’s book bears an accurately descriptive title. Gaia, the living, conscious, inspirited Earth, and eros, the love of the Earth. Gaia Eros – Earth love. Its thirty-eight small chapters felt to me more like a collection of love poems than a series of essays. Unconnected by a logical, progressive unfolding of ideas, each is complete in itself like musical variations on a theme – the theme of Earthly love. Continue reading

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‘Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World’ by Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber’s Integral approach, which is intrinsically value-free, is a unique method for understanding pretty much anything in a fully comprehensive, multidimensional and holistic way. It has the capacity to break up socio-cultural and ideological logjams and may well be the best tool available, right now, for achieving religious tolerance, peace and (when applied to ecological issues) sustainability. Continue reading

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‘H is for Hawk’ by Helen Macdonald

I found this to be a searingly exquisite and highly informative work about a young woman’s relationship with a goshawk. Three strands weave their way throughout this eloquently-written autobiography. The first is the author’s grief after the sudden unexpected death of her father. The second is her life experience as a hawker and the third is her ever-emerging insights into the work of writer, scholar and teacher, T. H. White, as she contrasts his experiences of keeping a hawk with her own.
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‘The Empowerment Manual: A guide for collaborative groups ‘ by Starhawk

The Manual seeks to identify the key elements that enable collaborative groups to thrive, how their healthy development can be facilitated with many practical exercises and rituals drawn from and credited to a wide range of sources. Starhawk illustrates her concepts by applying these elements and processes to a dramatically created fictional co-housing cooperative working its way through difficulties and challenges. And she ends by referring to the amazing levels of global collaboration offered by digital technology and how all organisations must adapt and evolve to the changing contexts of our times. Continue reading

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‘Deep Equality: Living in the flow of natural rhythms’ by Jocelyn Chaplin

At the core of this book is a profound understanding of the state that Jocelyn Chaplin sets out to evoke, being in “the flow”, which lies within us all but which in the West is hard to make contact with and live from. Rooted in her childhood spent in the Sudan and Ghana, and her adult years as a political activist, scholar, artist and psychotherapist, her writing succeeds in synthesising all these strands of her life. Continue reading

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‘Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth’ Edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Our present ecological crisis—accelerating climate change, species depletion, pollution and acidification of the oceans — is the greatest man-made disaster this planet has ever faced. There is a pressing need to articulate a spiritual response to this ecological crisis if we are to help bring the world as a living whole back into balance and in this book, under the editorship of Sufi teacher and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, twenty powerful voices take it in turns to do that, each in his or her own way. Continue reading

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‘Urban Acupuncture’ by Jaime Lerner

Most urban spaces and buildings in the West are designed and built with no sensitivity whatsoever to these subtle energy currents. Which is why Jaime Lerner’s book is called ‘Acupuncture’. It is all about bringing life back into dead spaces and restoring the flow of energy to places where it has been blocked or stifled. Lerner, who was three times mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, and is also an architect and a popular advocate for sustainable and liveable urbanism, describes how some city planners have worked to restore life and dynamism to ailing urban areas.
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‘Gossip from the Forest’ by Sara Maitland

In this beautifully written book, Sara Maitland sets out on a series of walks through ancient forest and woodland in Britain seeking the symbiosis between forests and fairy stories. She expresses a deep concern that the future of these two sources of healthy life experience is endangered. Continue reading

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‘The Science of Oneness: A worldview for the twenty-first century’ by Malcolm Hollick

Readers of GreenSpirit will be profoundly aware of the ecological stress now facing our planet as a result of human action, and of the call which many of us feel, to respond by embracing the earth more closely, connecting with it more intimately, so that we can know in our bones what is happening and respond more with our whole being. Many of us also feel that the underlying cause of what is happening is the progressive loss of any meaningful worldview within our society. Continue reading

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‘Wild Mind: A Field guide to the human psyche’ by Bill Plotkin

Plotkin, an eco-psychologist and wilderness guide well known for his earlier books Soulcraft and Nature and the Human Soul, turns his attention now to a complete and holistic re-visioning of psychology. Rather than focusing on pathology and dysfunction as most psychologists—except perhaps the Jungian ones—have done, his focus is on wellness. Not just wellness in the sense of being ‘normal’ and well-functioning but in the much wider and deeper context of our existence as just one species among many and just one aspect of ‘all-that-is.’ Continue reading

Posted in Cosmology, Gaia, Health and wellbeing, Practical, Psychology, Spirituality | Comments Off on ‘Wild Mind: A Field guide to the human psyche’ by Bill Plotkin